Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Night Flight, Day Flight, Hawk Flight, & More on Leucistic Osprey

With a calm night of northwest-then north then finally northeast winds, there was a decent nocturnal flight in the early a.m. I heard rougly 5 calls/minute along the bayshore, and Michael O'Brien reported about 10/minute in Cape May. Swainson's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were dominant, with Veeries, Wood Thrush, Bicknell's Thrush, Common Yellowthroats, Savannah sparrows and others included.

Morning Flight was dominated by Yellow-rumped Warblers - uh oh, the "end" is near. The end of the long-distance migrants, that is. But the flight was diverse, with a Connecticut Warbler being the star, and things like Cape Mays, Black-throated Greens and Blues, Parulas, Scarlet Tanagers, etc. adding spice to the butterbutts, Palms and Blackpolls. Eastern Meadowlarks, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finch, and Red-breasted Nuthatches made it feel like, well, October.

The Red Trail at the state park was closed again for spraying, annoying since clearly there were landbirds at the park, including a Clay-colored Sparrow briefly seen from the hawk watch. Hawks were over head, all right, higher and then higher by the time I left the platform at 11:30, but featured some nice kettling on the by-then southeast winds. One kettle contained about 75 Broad-wingeds, with a Peregrine, a couple harriers, a couple eagles, and plenty of both accipiters. A Bald Eagle forced an Osprey to drop it's bunker (Atlantic Menhaden), then caught its stolen prize in mid-air.

Kevin Inman just sent me a note with a picture of a leucistic Osprey taken at Brig on August 29. The photo doesn't seem to want to upload right now, but hmmm. . . was it the same bird that was timed crossing the bay (see below?) It's neat when these known-to-be-the-same birds reappear. E.g. yesterday Doug had a Cackling Goose with 4 Canadas at the Avalon seawatch, and a little while later they showed up at Morning Flight! Or, yesterday from the pontoon boat, the Osprey, we had an adult-male-type eclipse plumage Common Eider standing on the bank of the intra-coastal waterway. . .we had a male eider in the back bay last June, and a year ago in mid-summer I had a second-year male in the same area. Has this same bird been hanging around the whole time, summer and winter? It was visible from land, by the way, by looking northwest from the toll bridge at the south end of Nummy Island.

Be sure to check View from the Field for updates on the migration counts. Cameron had a great day at the dike yesterday, and the seawatch was good too.

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